Apr 08 2009

The Catholic Pope on HIV Prevention, Part II

I guess that none of the Pope’s assistants explained to him that marital fidelity, the issue he suggests will be more effective in preventing the epidemic spread of HIV/AIDS, is a little complicated in Cameroon. Polygamy, or men who have multiple wives, is common there.

If a man with multiple wives practices marital fidelity, what does that look like?

In his article in the BBC News, Yaounde,  Randy Joe Sa’ah tells the story of a mass wedding ceremony sponsored by the Cameroon government in January, 2007.One of the male participants at the ceremony said he was marrying three women and already had seventeen children.

The experience of experts in the area suggests that polygamy can be a risk factor in the spread of HIV.

Female genital mutilation is also widespread in Sub-Sahara Africa and in addition to being a form of horrific sexual violence against young females, is also a risk factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Female breast “ironing” or the physical abuse of young women’s breasts to flatten or make them disappear, is also widespread in Cameroon.

Why breast “ironing?”

Sexual abuse of young teenage girls is so widespread,  the mothers, grandmothers and aunts of these young women are trying to protect these girls by making them seem less attractive.

So, let’s think about it. The Pope makes a historic trip to Southern Africa and his major message is “abstinence and marital fidelity are more effective than condoms in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

What is wrong with this picture?

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